Cameras key to baby probe
Mother alleging hospital hell says daughter devastated at newborn’s death
Shanique Armstrong, the 26-year-old woman who gave birth on the floor of the Accident and Emergency Department of the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine while nurses allegedly ignored her pleas for help, is pushing for video evidence captured by cameras at the facility to be used to test the veracity of her claims.
The 24-week-old baby girl she gave birth to later died and the distraught woman is still reliving the painful incident that has shattered the hopes of her four-year-old daughter who was looking forward to playing with her little sister when she got home.
“Every time mi try not to cry because I hate being unhappy. My daughter gets emotional when I am unhappy,” Armstrong told The Gleaner on Monday.
Armstrong said that her preschooler has been pressing for answers on why her sister hasn’t yet come home.
“I was going to say to her, ‘Mi leave her at the hospital,’ but she sensible. She nuh see nuh baby a come from hospital, so she a guh waan know.
“Mi say the baby dead, and mi just watch her nice light up face turn inna a frown and mi see she a guh cry and mi say, ‘Don’t cry, Mommy a guh have a next baby.’”
The grieving woman took umbrage at a statement issued Monday evening by the Southern Regional Health Authority, which has oversight responsibility for Spanish Town Hospital.
Armstrong believes that the statement, which cited Dr Jacqueline Wright James, senior medical officer at the hospital, as saying that clinical procedures were followed, suggested that the mother’s account of events was not true.
“The report that SERHA released sounds like dem a seh mi a tell lie,” she said.
Armstrong said she would be surprised if the cameras were operational, hinting that it would be alarming that nursing staff would have allegedly refused to assist her while she and the child were in distress.
The 26-year-old said she had told the CEO cameras in the A&E were “directly pon mi and one deh directly pon di nurse”.
“Him seh him ago get them to pull the footage immediately and start investigation. And me a wonder if dem camera deh a work. Dem could never a work and the nurse dem do that,” Armstrong said.
Hospital CEO Dwayne Francis confirmed that video footage would be used in a probe that has been launched.
“That is in line with all investigations,” Francis told The Gleaner Monday evening, adding that “all aspects of the investigations will be looked at”.
Francis declined further comment on the incident.
In its statement yesterday, SERHA said that its board has asked for a report on the matter.
The regional health body is demanding a full report no later than June 9. It said that the board would be meeting on June 10 to discuss the events surrounding the death of the newborn, who was delivered inside the reconfigured space of the A&E.
The statement said that the management has arranged to meet with the family and to offer counselling and other support where necessary.
Armstrong visited the hospital to get treatment for an incessant cough. She was in the facility from May 29 and, after feeling recurring pains which she reported to the nursing staff, her water broke on June 1.
She told The Gleaner that she endured a five-hourlong ordeal awaiting a doctor to see her and beseeched nurses to lend a helping hand as she delivered the baby alone.
Armstrong said she would have felt better if the nurses had explained that they were not trained to handle childbirth emergencies and made an attempt to seek help while she was in labour.
She told The Gleaner that she had no confidence that the planned investigation would hold any of the hospital’s staff accountable.
“Nothing nuh normally done about these things ... . Dem a try save dem face,” she said.